Martha Marcy May Marlene or: How a Brainwashed Woman Isn’t the Best Guest For a Family Vacation

Martha Macy May Marlene

Before you ask yourself, “wait, there’s another Olsen sister who acts?” know that yes there is, and yes, she is phenomenal as a paranoid and mentally damaged woman from a former cult in first-time director Sean Durkin’s ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene.’

The film tells the story of Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), a young woman who seeks retreat from her small cult by spending a few weeks with her estranged sister and her husband on a lakeside manor in Connecticut. The film, which cuts between Martha’s initiation and time spent in a small rural cult, to her present struggles with her sister, as Martha battles painful memories from her previous home.

Although the backbone of the film are the strong performances by Olsen and her sadistic cult leader, played by John Hawkes, there is also much praise that should be given towards the screenplay.  The dynamics in which Durkin’s script are able to parallel Martha’s time spent with the cult to her present day paranoia is very well done. However, the film seems to be building upon a big climax, but seemingly never gets there, and by the end it leaves the viewer with a few more questions that should’ve been touched upon.  Although the ending of the film isn’t as strong as the rest of it, this is still a great film, which should be seen by lovers of independent cinema as well as those who enjoy a good psychological drama.

I give ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’


3 ½ out of 5 Scorsese’s

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